BlueCross Of Tennessee will stop covering OxyContin in 2019
| Purdue Pharma has been accused of intentionally fueling the opioid epidemic
| Nashville, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s largest health insurer will stop covering OxyContin as part of several measures to combat opioid addiction.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will encourage doctors to recommend two alternative opioid pain relievers, Xtampza and Morphabond, which are designed to be more difficult to abuse. The insurer will cease paying for OxyContin on Jan. 1.
The suggested alternatives are more expensive than OxyContin, but customers will not have to fork over more money for the copay. Tate said BlueCross will absorb the additional cost.
“We are not telling our physicians you cannot prescribe this. We are not telling our members you cannot receive this,” Tate said. “We are just drawing a line that we will not continue to pay for this and we have alternatives we have now put into place.”
BlueCross covers around 70 percent of insured Tennesseans.
It’s not the first to drop OxyContin, but it’s among a select few that includes Cigna and Florida Blue. Cancer and hospice patients with approved prescriptions will be exempt from this coverage change.
OxyContin is oxycodone manufactured by Purdue Pharma, a company accused of intentionally fueling the opioid epidemic.
State and local governments across the country have filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, asserting that the manufacturer pressured doctors to over-prescribe the drug.
The lawsuits and health concerns have decreased demand for OxyContin, which, coupled with increased confidence in abuse-deterrent drugs led to BlueCross of Tennessee’s “progressive decision,” Tate said.
The opioid overdose epidemic claimed more than 1,200 lives in Tennessee last year. At its core is OxyContin, which can be ground into a powder to destroy its delayed-release quality, therefore unlocking its full potency and making it ripe for abuse. Read the full story at Fox News.